Alex Rider: Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz, reviewed by Ben

Nightshade is the most recent book of the Alex Rider series, a wildly popular set of books set on a 15-year-old boy who has been recruited by MI5. MI5 use him for missions that adults can’t achieve, this mission was like wise. Him breaching a high security prison, acting like a criminal in an attempt to befriend and get information out of a similar aged boy who was part of a cult. 

This book was very exciting and well written. It made you want to know more from page one. I think the book could mainly be enjoyed by early teens and a little younger, but I think most people would like to read Nightshade. Although many argue the Alex Rider series peaked near Scorpia rising, I think all the books have been very good in the Alex Rider series.

All the Money in the World by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, reviewed by Isobel

This is a heart-warming story about social status, privilege and identity. The moral being: Don’t be ashamed of where you come from and who you are. 

In this story the protagonist, Penny Nolan, lives in a place ominously referred to as ‘The Flats’. The flats have poor lighting, rats and a damp problem. Penny feels that people look down on her because of where she comes from, for not having enough money. She longs to escape. 

When Penny befriends Violet Fitzsimons, the mysterious elderly woman living in the large house next door, she feels a sense of escape as Violet teaches her to play the piano and tells stories of her much-loved schooldays at a respectable boarding school called Pearlbourne. Hearing about Pearlbourne makes Penny jealous. It makes her realise, properly, how different she and her friends from The Flats are, and she becomes determined to find a way to attend Pearlbourne herself. However, when Penny eventually finds herself thrust into a world of privilege, her shame about who she is and where she comes from grows.  

This is the story of a poor girl in a rich world. A girl who has to earn respect, rather than be born with it. A girl who feels she has to lie about everything, her friends, her family, and her life, just to be accepted by society. This is the story of someone pretending to be something she isn’t, even though the person she was originally was just as good, in fact, better.  

This is a story of family, friends, lies, secrets, playing, working, acting, hiding and pretending. This is a story of how much good a person can do when fuelled by cold, hard ambition. 

Hide and Seek by Robin Scott-Elliot, reviewed by James

Hide and Seek is a thought-provoking book about Amelie, a Jewish French girl who witnesses her family being taken away by the gestapo during World War Two, and her quest to be reunited with them in Nazi occupied Paris. This is a brilliantly written book that had me sitting on the edge of my seat all the way through and should I come across any other books written by this author, I would definitely be inclined to read them.

About the book:

‘Hide and Seek brings to vivid life the courage of young people who risked all in the French resistance in the second world war.’ OBSERVER

‘Beautifully told’ TELEGRAPH

Thrilling new page turner by Robin Scott-Elliot, author of The Tzar’s Curious Runaways and The Acrobats of Agra.

Paris, 1942. When Amelie Dreyfus hides in her mother’s wardrobe it’s a game; when she comes out it’s a matter of life or death. With her family taken, Amelie has to fend for herself in Nazi-occupied France – she’s no choice but to resist. In the Resistance life hangs by a thread. Betrayed, Amelie’s forced to flee to Britain. But Paris is home and she returns to face one final, desperate mission.

The Five Clues (Don’t Doubt The Rainbow 1) by Anthony Kessel, reviewed by Laura-May

Edie is distraught after her mums death however at the stone setting she finds a clue! And with it a letter from her mum containing the knowledge that she was murdered!! Following Edie as she solves clues leading to important research -the last case her mum took! 

I loved this book! It was funny, heartwarming and gripping! It carried an amazing sense of mystery that enraptures the audience. Friendly characters, mind-bending puzzles and lots and lots of laughter.

Recommend for 10+ action and mystery lovers!  

About the book

The first book in the series, The Five Clues, is a real-time murder-mystery thriller and family drama, combining an exciting race against time with a heart-rending story about a teenager learning to live with the loss of a beloved parent.

Walking back from her mother’s grave, 13-year-old schoolgirl Edie Marble finds a note in a pocket of the sheepskin coat that she hasn’t worn since the day, a year earlier, when she received the awful news of her mother’s death. The note is from her mother, who had been looking into a corporate human rights violation and had become fearful for her life after receiving death threats. She trusts only Edie – because of their special bond and Edie’s intelligence – and has laid a trail of clues for Edie to find that will help her to shed light on the violation and uncover the mystery around her death.

Through her wit and determination, Edie steadily gathers evidence and negotiates the dramatic twists and turns of the story by collaborating with her friends and family to gradually unearth a sinister attempt by a pharmaceutical company to conceal their illegal development of a lethal virus.

As Edie’s investigations progress she is introduced, in parallel, to the Three Principles, which help her conquer various psychological stresses and support her in coming to terms with her grief. Reading age 11+

All the Money in the World by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, reviewed by Abi

All the Money in the World focuses on fifteen-year-old Penny and her struggle to remain true to herself following a life-changing event. Penny lives in a small, damp flat, a modern-day tenement in a once grand house that has seen better days. Struggling to cope with the grind of consistent poverty, bullied at school because of her socio-economic status, Penny wishes for more. And that wish comes true when a new friendship and a huge sum of money suddenly enter her life.

This is a timely story for readers of all ages, especially in a country facing an ongoing housing crisis, where the right to a home can no longer be taken for granted. Penny is a wonderful character, flawed and fallible but wonderfully empathetic, and inspiring in her resilience.

While there is a moral at the heart of the story – who you is what matters, not what you have or don’t have – the author never falls into the trap of preaching to her readers, offering instead and realistic and resonant account of what happens when a teenager’s dreams seem to come true. Compelling and extremely readable, this new story from an already accomplished author will stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

I have two sisters, both are younger than me (I’m the oldest child). I’ve lived in Brighton and Hove my whole life. I live with both of my parents and siblings. I have 6 cats which can be very stressful at times. When I’m older I want to become an English teacher, I want to inspire young people to follow their dreams.

About the book

One day you’re broke. The next, you have all the money in the world. What would you do? A gripping, timely story about cold, hard cash and little white lies for fans of Jenny Valentine, Siobhan Dowd and Lara Williamson.

Fifteen-year-old Penny longs for something better. Better than a small, damp flat. Better than her bullying classmates and uninterested teachers. Better than misery and poverty day in day out. 

An unlikely friendship and a huge sum of money promise a whole lot of new chances for Penny, and she realises that not only can she change her life, she can change herself . 

But at what cost?

Perfect for readers of 10+.

‘If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 13, and they’re not reading Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s work, you’re missing a trick. Her latest book is laced with her trademark compassion and kindness, as well as being a cracking good read on privilege, wealth and identity. Not to be missed.’ Louise O’Neill, Irish Examiner

The Upper World by Femi Fadugba, reviewed by Torrin

The Upper World is the stunning debut from Femi Fadugba. Interstellar meets Attack the Block in a head on collision of fact and physics.

Esso hits his head in a car crash and is transported to the mysterious “Uppper World” which may or may not facilitate a form of mental time-travel. 
Meanwhile Rhia meets her new personal tutor Dr Esso, who begins to explain not just her  homework but the physics of time-travel itself. 

This is one of the best science fiction novels I have read in a long, long time. What might seen like a time-travel story from the outside is in [reality] a carefully veiled story of redemption, loss and acceptance. Esso and Rhia have a very different dynamic to the central characters of a typical teen novel. The story is not about love but acceptance. 

Although the concept of time travel is an important aspect of the book. It often takes a backseat to so it’s effects on the novel’s characters can be explored. With something as high concept as time travel it can often be difficult to get your head around the mechanics of it. But Fadugba uses modern metaphors and simple language to make the concept accessible for all. 

This book is a truly excellent read, and one that I urge you to pick up! 

Hello, I’m Torrin. I like good books. I’m a fan of Crime, Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My favourite quote from any book is: “Doors are for people with no imagination” If it’s got too much description and emotions, I probably won’t read it.  Check out my website at www.ananonymousautistic.wordpress.com   

About the book

This epic thriller is soon to be a major Netflix movie starring Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther, Judas and the Black Messiah).  

‘Believing is seeing, Esso . . .’

Esso is running out of time and into trouble. When he discovers he has the ability to see glimpses of the future, he becomes haunted by a vision of a bullet fired in an alleyway with devastating consequences. 

A generation later, fifteen-year-old Rhia is desperately searching for answers – and a catastrophic moment from the past holds the key to understanding the parents she never got to meet.

Whether on the roads of South London or in the mysterious Upper World, Esso and Rhia’s fates must collide.

And when they do, a race against the clock will become a race against time itself . . .

Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury, reviewed by Laura-May

It was bone-chillingly wonderful. A sense of quiet dread fills you up as you follow the characters along their journey! In a good way of course! It had a great plot and ending, but I’m not going to give it away it’s just such addictive of a story! I enjoyed the added Scottish culture we learn too! Once again I recommend!

I was born in Worthing but I live in Lancing, I really like it as I love my neighbourhood. I’ve always loved English and reading in fact in Year 3 I entered the Wicked writing competition and I got down to the final with my story Playdates about a girl making friends with a ghost. And the library ANY library has always been a place I feel calm and happy. So many doorways to adventure I can never pick! In Year 6 I volunteered to help put books away at lunch times. And of course my highlight of the summer the library reading challenge I participated in for about 6 years straight. I try to spread my love for reading too be it by tutoring my neighbour in English or by recommending books to friends I just love it. 

About the book

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past… Unsettling, sharply beautiful and thought-provoking, HOLD BACK THE TIDE is the new novel from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, reviewed by Sophie

This book is a mystery that will capture your attention as the bond between the three Hollow sisters Grey, Vivi and Iris is deeply explored. A uniquely horrifying story, where the beauty of language is entwined into the very soul of this tale and Krystal Sutherland knows how to tell a tale. 

So when an unknown man in a bull skull kidnaps Grey, it is down to Iris and Vivi to find her – but where and from what? It really is a story of dark, dark secrets.

House of Hollow is a modern-day thriller like you’ve never read before. I ask you now, will you be prepared for the unexpected when it comes sinisterly crawling nearer?

Hi, I’m Sophie and I absolutely love books, tv, music and films. My favorite film has to be How to train your Dragon. I play the Saxophone and I’m studying English Lit/Lang, Film studies and Textiles for my A-levels.  

About the book

‘This story will steal up your spine, slip beneath your skin, and stick to you like honey.’ — Samantha Shannon

The Hollow sisters – Vivi, Grey and Iris – are as seductively glamorous as they are mysterious. They have black eyes and hair as white as milk. The Hollow sisters don’t have friends – they don’t need them. They move through the corridors like sharks, the other little fish parting around them, whispering behind their backs.

And everyone knows who the Hollow sisters are. Because one day the three Hollow sisters simply disappeared. And when they came back, one month later, with no memory of where they had been, it was as if nothing had changed. Almost nothing, Apart from, for example, the little scar that had appeared in the hollow of their throats … and a whispering sense that something is not quite right about them, despite (or maybe because of) the terrible passion to be with them that they can exert on anybody at will…A thrilling, twisting, novel that is as seductive and glamorous as the Hollow sisters themselves….

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, reviewed by Isobel

This book is a dark and engaging mystery novel with plenty of suspense, well developed characters, and moments of extreme danger. 

Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell – at least that is what everyone thought happened- and the investigation was closed five years ago. But, having grown up in the same town as the murder took place, and having known Sal Singh as he once defended her from a group of bullies, A- grade student Pippa Fitz-Amobi is certain that it wasn’t Sal who killed Andie. And she wants to prove it. But as she starts to uncover secrets she finds out that there is someone in town who wants them to stay hidden, and if the real killer is still out there then they will do anything within their power to conceal the truth from Pip. 

As you learn more about these characters and what they want, you begin to grow suspicious of everyone, conflicted between suspects. You become genuinely frightened when these characters find themselves in danger. 

Holly Jackson has written a gripping mystery story that  is impossible to put down. 

Isobel (known to her friends as Izzy) was born in Edinburgh and lived in Tudela (Spain) and Glasgow before settling in Shoreham-by-Sea by the time she was eight years old. She lives with her mum, dad, brother, sister and her cat, Peggy. She attends Shoreham Academy, having started there amid the global pandemic of 2020. In her spare time Isobel reads (obviously), draws, writes poetry and stories and makes plans for world domination. She is not a big fan of maths or meat-eating.

About the book:

The New York Times No.1 bestselling YA crime thriller that everyone is talking about!

THE WINNER OF THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS’ CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE 2020

‘A fiendishly-plotted mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.’ – Laura Purcell, bestselling author of The Silent Companions

A debut YA crime thriller as addictive as Serial as compelling as Riverdale and as page-turning as One of Us Is Lying

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth … ?

Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying , Gone Girl, We Were Liars and Riverdale

Holly Jackson started writing stories from a young age, completing her first (poor) attempt at a novel aged fifteen. She lives in London and aside from reading and writing, she enjoys playing video games and watching true crime documentaries so she can pretend to be a detective. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is her first novel. You can follow Holly on Twitter and Instagram @HoJay92

Don’t Doubt the Rainbow: The Five Clues by Anthony Kessel, reviewed by Alex

One year after Edie Marbles mum dies in a devastating train accident, Edie finds a letter in the pocket of her coat. It contains the first of five clues, written by her mum before her death, that will take Edie on a journey she never imagined.

Overall, I would give this book ★★★★☆ because it was captivating and almost hypnotic, while remaining realistic. And, the plot being set in London around a
schoolgirl, it was relatable, too. The book had an air of humour around it but was wholly a mystery/detective story, which I quite liked.

I am intelligent, funny and a very enthusiastic reader. I enjoy reading action-adventure and crime novels. My favourite book series is Skulduggery Pleasant, but I have also read The Inheritance Cycle, Alex Rider, The Hunger Games and the Scythe series. When I’m not reading I like to draw and especially write.

About the book:

The first book in the series, The Five Clues, is a real-time murder-mystery thriller and family drama, combining an exciting race against time with a heart-rending story about a teenager learning to live with the loss of a beloved parent.

Walking back from her mother’s grave, 13-year-old schoolgirl Edie Marble finds a note in a pocket of the sheepskin coat that she hasn’t worn since the day, a year earlier, when she received the awful news of her mother’s death. The note is from her mother, who had been looking into a corporate human rights violation and had become fearful for her life after receiving death threats. She trusts only Edie – because of their special bond and Edie’s intelligence – and has laid a trail of clues for Edie to find that will help her to shed light on the violation and uncover the mystery around her death.

Through her wit and determination, Edie steadily gathers evidence and negotiates the dramatic twists and turns of the story by collaborating with her friends and family to gradually unearth a sinister attempt by a pharmaceutical company to conceal their illegal development of a lethal virus.

As Edie’s investigations progress she is introduced, in parallel, to the Three Principles, which help her conquer various psychological stresses and support her in coming to terms with her grief.Reading age 11+